The Alphabet and Its Arrangement

The Kannada alphabet is patterned after the Sanskrit alphabet. It has 16 vowels and 34 consonants. All the vowels are placed in one group and all the consonants in another. Traditionally the vowel group appears first.

The consonants are arranged in sub-groups or clusters depending on the location where the sound originates in the passage from the throat to the lips. There are five such sub-groups. The first sub-group called Ka-varga (Ka-group) originates in the throat while the last sub-group Pa-varga (the Pa-group) is labial and originates in the lips. The remaining three are placed sequentially between these two groups.